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ADT JOURNAL: CHAPTER 26
Bergen Park to Crested Butte, CO
June 23, Monday
Harv Hisgen and his wife, Bonnie, picked us up this morning at Janet and Don's house and drove us, our bikes, and gear to Georgetown, Colorado. Harv lives in Illinois and chairs the Illinois and Michigan Canal Association (part of the northern route of the ADT) and handles the database for the ADT Society. While visiting his son in Fort Collins, he wanted to ride part of the ADT with us. We thought by going from Georgetown (elev. 8600) eastward to Bergen Park (elev. 7500) that we would have a relatively easy day with a net loss of elevation of 1100 feet. Guess again! A closer inspection of the map revealed we would be climbing to almost 11,000 feet on the Saxon Mountain Road only to descend to Idaho Springs at 7500 feet. From there we were to ascend 9800 foot Squaw Pass before descending to Bergen Park. Suffice it to say, we pushed much of the first 7 miles and it took us over 4 1/2 hours to cover the 17 miles to Idaho Springs. We were glad that our gear was in Harv's car. If we had been carrying all our gear, who knows how long it would have taken. The road was the roughest surface we have seen on a road (parts of Kokopelli's Trail were rougher). Big loose cobbles and imbedded rocks made the downhill go slowly also. Harv did great but Laurie is not a happy camper. She is tired of the endless uphill only to descend again without a reason. Bill is feeling somewhat the same way but thinks he has convinced Laurie to stay with it for a few more days. We ate lunch at Idaho Springs and if we had stayed on our route over Squaw Pass, it would have taken us another 5 hours. We opted to take a bike trail and paved roads to Bergen Park. By this route we covered the last 11 miles in less than 1 1/2 hours even with some uphill thrown in for good measure. About an hour from Bergen Park it stormed and we rode in the rain. Harv and Bonnie brought us back to Georgetown and we enjoyed a nice dinner with them. It was great getting someone so involved with the ADT out here on the ground to see the conditions we are dealing with.
28 miles, 6.3 mph, 4 hours 22 min seat time
June 24, Tuesday
In an effort to make today's trip easier, last night Bill made arrangements with John and Linda Enochs to sag our gear up the mountain to Guanella Pass, a climb of about 3200 feet. This would be our highest elevation yet on this trip at 11,669 feet. John met us at our motel and decided to ride part of the way with us before returning to Georgetown and the ice cream/tee shirt that he and Linda own and operate. John is a professional engineer but gave up his desk job to come to the mountains. He said he's never been so happy but never has he worked so hard. The ride up Guanella Pass was 12 miles long, half of it paved. The grade was good and the scenery was breathtaking. There were small lakes, cold rushing streams, and towering mountains with snow patches on them. We passed two bighorn sheep a short way above the road who seemed to pose for us although we didn't have our camera with us. It took us about 3 1/2 hours to reach the pass as the high altitude affected our breathing. But, then the downhill! Eight glorious miles of it before we reached our campsite at Burning Bear, a USFS campground. Just prior to turning into the campground we passed a ranch whose sign proclaimed it all, "Big City Dropouts". In another attempt to make the trip easier, we shortened our day, camped early, and were inside the tent when the afternoon thunderstorms hit. When it was still raining at dinnertime, we ended up cooking in the very clean outhouse, an SST or Sweet Smelling Toilet. From here on, we are warned that we are in bear country. Having no vehicle to store our food in we found another use for outhouses as a food storage locker.
19.5 miles, 6.5 mph, 2 hours 57 min
June 25, Wednesday
We left the campground and rode 5 1/2 miles down to Grant on US 285 and then 8 miles up to Kenosha Pass at 10,001 feet. This is where we will pick up the Colorado Trail which we will backpack with our friends, Tom and Gretchen Morgan, in a couple of weeks. For now, we rode 4 more miles down to the town of Jefferson where we got a shuttle for us and our bikes by Dwayne Winger (a very distant cousin to Debra) to Tennessee Pass. This is where our backpacking section will end. Dwayne and his wife, Loretta, recently purchased and are revitalizing the general store in Jefferson. Dwayne stands about 5 feet 8 inches in his cowboy hat and has the rugged look that comes from years of gold mining and ranching. Trained as a metallurgical engineer, he said he was one of the inventors of the cyanide method of extracting gold from ore. He recently has had some heart attacks but continues to smoke, saying, "I'd rather die from something than from nothing. Don't want to live my life and say I died from nothing". From Tennessee Pass we biked down to Leadville, a city at 10,200 feet in elevation. Here we stopped at a bike shop to repair Laurie's front deraillieur cable which was frayed and about to break. We also stopped at the Leadville Ranger District of the San Isabel National Forest where we discussed trail conditions with Loretta who provided us with a lot of information. Not only is she a ranger, but she has ridden several of the trails on our route. Later, we met Brad Gellerstedt and his family and in-laws for dinner. Brad is the son of Jack Gellerstedt, who biked the first 5 days of our ADT trip from Delaware with us. They were vacationing in Leadville and had spent the day panning for gold (with no luck). When he realized that we would be in the same town on the same day, he emailed us and plans were set.
28 miles, 9.5 mph
June 26, Thursday
We left Leadville and headed down US 24 toward Buena Vista, 35 miles away, stopping in Granite for a chocolate milkshake. It was downhill practically all the way so we were able to enjoy the mountain views and make good time. On our right were the majestic Collegiate Peaks with many 14ers plus Mt. Elbert, Colorado's highest mountain. We passed Mounts Columbia, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. About 12 miles north of Buena Vista, we picked up a gravel road which had been a railroad bed in its former life. It paralleled the raging Arkansas River. It seemed strange to us to follow the Arkansas River downstream when several weeks ago we had followed it upstream for over 400 miles. There is easily 10 times as much water in the Arkansas here as there was in Great Bend, Kansas. The railroad bed was a wonderful road which passed Elephant Rock, a popular climbing area, went through tunnels, and was gently downhill. Once in Buena Vista, we did some laundry and town chores and had some minor bike repairs done. Then we decided to get a headstart on tomorrow's climb over Tincup Pass. We biked 21 more miles, gaining 2000 feet in elevation, and went past Mt. Princeton Hot Springs, Chalk Canyon, along the North Fork of Chalk Creek and up to St. Elmo. St. Elmo is a ghost town left over from the heyday of mining. A few hardy souls still live there. We were proud of our accomplishment until we talked with the owners of the general store there. They informed us that Tincup Pass was still snowed shut. We couldn't believe our ears! When in Leadville, we had talked to the ranger who talked with someone from the district for Tincup and was told it was open. Not wanting to give up, we talked to others a biker and the campground host who had been up the pass as far as possible. They all told the same story. Time to regroup and pull out the maps. Our campground host told us she had never seen loaded bikes up at this elevation before.
59.2 miles, 10.7 mph, 5 hours 30 min
2906 miles biked total
June 27, Friday
We had little choice but to retreat the 20 miles back to Buena Vista and the Cottonwood Pass Road. Thus, we had traveled 41 miles for naught. We headed up toward Cottonwood Pass, pedaling for about 5 miles. Wanting to make the pass before the inevitable afternoon thunderstorms, we accepted a ride up the remaining 6 miles to the top, feeling justified after the 41 mile and 2,000 foot setback. Cottonwood Pass, elevation 12,124, would have been snowed shut also except that it is a plowed pass. This is our first crossing of the Continental Divide (we will cross it twice more on our backpacking segment). The views from the top with the endless mountain ranges to the west were gorgeous. We would soon see Taylor Reservoir, our next destination, some 12 miles away. We coasted all the way down a fine gravel road, except for having to eat the dust of numerous vehicles coming and going. Shortly, we crossed the Timberline Trail, which is also the Continental Divide Trail. The ADT also uses this trail if one is hiking. We left a note in the trailside register box for our friends Bob and Shell Ellinwood of Lynchburg, who are hiking the CDT this summer. We stopped at a ranger station near Taylor Reservoir and were told that the next two mountain passes that we intended to cross were still very snowed shut. Therefore, we will ride down Taylor River Canyon and take Colorado 135 to Crested Butte. At the south end of Taylor Reservoir we found a group of log cabins for rent. Despite the fact that we are acclimating to the altitude, it does exhaust us and we spend a lot of our downtime sleeping. Laurie continues to be on the edge of her limits. The ADT is as much a mental challenge as a physical one. Great flexibility is needed to deal with its always changing conditions heat, cold, high altitude, cities and traffic, remote roads and trails, thunder and lightning, intense sun, animals and bugs, and on and on. One look at a steep uphill climb (or push) and Laurie is ready to burst into tears. She continues to have to deal with this only a day at a time and sometimes only a mile at a time. Bill on the other hand is taking a philosophical approach to the trail. He is able to accept almost any condition and not worry about it. Zen and the art of completing the ADT!
41.2 miles, 12.6 mph, 3 hours 15 min
June 28, Saturday
When we woke up this morning we saw two cowboys driving a herd of cattle across the open range. Passing Taylor Reservoir there were a number of people fishing along its banks. Our revised route took us down along the Taylor River and then up the East River to Crested Butte. Everywhere we looked there were wildflowers and open meadows with mountain ranges as a backdrop. We could see the snow-laden Elk Mountain range with Crystal Peak in the distance. Had the trail been clear, we would be climbing up to 12,000 feet to get around this peak. The town of Crested Butte is a bustling tourist town with plenty of restaurants and trendy shops to spend money. It happened we arrived on the weekend of the Fat Tire Festival for mountain bikes. Races and events were held up at the ski area and the town was crawling with mountain bikers. We fit right in. After talking to two bike shops and various bikers, we were told again that Schofield Pass, our next day's agenda, was still snowed shut. Bill is very frustrated with this fact and keeps rechecking the maps for alternate routes and talking to more people, hoping to get a different answer. We are also seeking information on the trails on Grand Mesa, but it being a weekend, the Forest Service offices are not open and the locals do not know the conditions that far away.
34 miles, 12.8 mph
© Copyright, William & Laurel Foot, 1997, Lynchburg, VA.
The Happy Feet